The EEA and Norway Grants as a source of Soft Power

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Series Details No.3, 2013
Publication Date 18/02/2014
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For nearly 20 years, Norway has contributed financially to less-wealthy EU countries. From €120 million (1994–1998), these contributions have reached nearly €1.8 billion for the period 2009–2014. In the first period of contributions through the Financial Mechanism,1 there were five recipient states. Today, Norway contributes, together with Iceland and Liechtenstein, to 15 – a majority of the EU members.

The Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said that these contributions represent excellent ‘propaganda’ for Norway in Europe.3 Indeed, there are reasons to believe that Norway’s contribution to the 15 poorest EU states is important for how they, and the EU, perceive Norway. But what exactly does Norway get in return? Should the Grants be understood simply as an act of solidarity? Or do the financial contributions serve as a source of soft power, providing increased influence in the EU?

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